Beers at the ballpark: Hundreds drink from a 76-beer selection as craft beer tour stops in Detroit Lakes
Hundreds of thirsty craft connoisseurs sampled beers, 2 oz. at a time, as the Detroit Lakes Craft Beer Tour, hosted by Leighton Events, stopped at Washington Ballpark in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 20.
DETROIT LAKES — Hundreds of beer samplers took the field at Washington Ballpark on Saturday to meet and drink with more than a dozen regional craft brewers during the Detroit Lakes Craft Beer Tour, hosted by Leighton Events.
The Aug. 20 event was the fourth annual beer festival tour stop in Detroit Lakes, which also has upcoming September events in St. Cloud and East Grand Forks .
Trevor Waltzing, event coordinator for Leighton Events, said he was excited when the gates finally opened and couldn't have imagined a more beautiful day for people to enjoy being outside at the ballpark with a variety of beverages.
"We do (the Craft Beer Tours) to drive people back to the taproom," said Waltzing. "We want people to go back to these breweries and something that they sampled here, pay a one-time fee, and sample the breweries and then be able to drive traffic back to them and we're also working in support with the Detroit Lakes Jaycees and helping them out, and we're just having some fun with the community."
He also said they sold about 500 tickets for the event.
Thirteen different regional brewers submitted their pour lists ahead of the event, which included 76 different offerings overall. Event attendees were also encouraged to vote online for their favorite samples and breweries for the tour's coveted Brewer's Cup.
This year's winners are:
- Brewer's Cup — Beach Bum, a fruited sour, submitted by Talking Waters Brewing of Montevideo, Minn.
- Best Beer — Dreaming of a White Chocolate Christmas, submitted by Fish Dream Brewing
- Best 'not' Beer — Peach Lemonade, submitted by Wild Terra Cider of Fargo, N.D.
- Best Brewery — Half Brothers Brewing Company of Grand Forks, N.D.
One of the newest breweries to make it onto the tour stop is Detroit Lakes' Bucks Mill Brewing, which opened its new taproom and brewery location on Washington Avenue, about a half-mile away from the event.
"The taproom is all together and we're all excited, we have beer on-tap, it happened late-last night at some point, it's all coming together," said Tyler Hawkins, brewmaster for Bucks Mill Brewing. "It's just an amazing spot where everyone is welcome ... it's just going to be a great place to meet up."
Hawkins said his favorite beer they brought to beer fest was their Hazy IPA, but, he admitted he is also a bit of a "hop-head."
The official grand opening date for the brewery hasn't been finalized yet, he said, but they are currently conducting soft-openings to help with staff training and working some of the kinks out of the operations. Adding, anyone interested in stopping into the new taproom should check their social media page for the soft-opening hours .
Ironically, the beer tour vendor who managed to hold the longest consistent line throughout the event was sampling a family recipe of craft liquor and cocktails.
Art Weidner of North Dakota Sweet Crude, a home-style liquor distributor, was serving small samplings of his family's liquor recipe. His two cocktail offerings were: Orange Crush, some Sweet Crude Orange mixed with Sprite, orange juice and an orange wedge; and a Dakota Mule, Sweet Crude mixed with ginger beer and an orange rind twist.
"We've got a 100-year-old family recipe here, cinnamon-spiced liquor," said Weidner. "It's all natural ingredients. You start with an herbal tea blend and then I caramelize the sugar myself. In fact, we even grow some of the sugar beats at our farm, give them to American Crystal sugar, I buy the sugar right off the dock, caramelize it in our warehouse and we put that into our drink as well."
Weidner said North Dakota Sweet Crude doesn't have a taproom and keeps the liquor's secrets close to the vest.
"I don't let anybody come in and see because it's all proprietary processes," he said.
He also said North Dakota Sweet Crude can be found at many bars and restaurants in the region and anyone interested in sampling the liquor should visit their website for a list of stocked locations and more than 70 recipes to try with their liquor .
One of the craft tour's attendees, Jena Ollila, of Frazee, said the Detroit Lakes event was the second beer fest she's attended.
"I like getting to try a lot of breweries that I haven't been to before," said Ollila. She said she didn't have a favorite out of the beer vendors, but she did like Jack Pine Brewery of Brainerd since she had visited them in the past.
"It was fun getting to try Bucks Mill," she said. "That was probably what I was most excited for and I was hoping they were going to be here so I could try their stuff."